PH Rights defenders ask, ‘Why is the government picking fights at the UN?’

GENEVA, Switzerland—A group of rights defenders questioned the approach taken by the Philippine government to the ongoing 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council that consistently challenges recommendations made by UN experts.

The Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (EcuVoice) delegation pointed out that in its oral statement the other day, the government challenged the report of Fionnuala Ní Aoláin,

UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism

“We are amused and amazed with the way the Philippine government is comporting itself in this arena of international dialogue and diplomacy by directly challenging not just the reports but the Special Rapporteurs themselves,” EcuVoice co- head Cristina Palabay said.

“Madam Special Rapporteur, you have addressed in your report the need for due diligence policies within the UN system to ensure that practices on countering terrorism and extremism are compliant with international human rights law. However, do you also see the need for a similar due diligence review by the UN and international organizations to ensure that funding support are not channelled by organizations towards actors professing terrorism?,” the government Mission said in a rather impertinent tone.

The government also challenged some of the concerns raised by Aoláin by saying her suggestions “merit a more serious thought and debate, to ask in particular, if these concerns can hold their weight against realities on the ground.”

Aoláin in her report concluded that many violent extremism prevention programmes worldwide are directly contributing to human rights violations and may even foster radicalization instead of preventing it.

Aoláin also encouraged the entire UN to review its entire counter-terrorism architecture to better protect human rights and the rule of law when they support and member countries’ programmes.

“But look at how the government acts so defensively at well-intentioned reports that it reacts so vociferously, violently even, to general recommendations that are not particularly directed at the Philippines. Such defensiveness often betrays guilt,” EcuVoice head Atty. Edre Olalia said.

Earlier last Wednesday, the government also challenged UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Michel Forst’s report by telling him to investigate human rights defenders instead, EcuVoice said.

Last week, Presidential Communications Operations Office secretary Martin Andanar set the tone for the government’s stance at the ongoing sessions by trying to mislead the international community with his “ludicrous if only it is not perilous” spins and slants on press freedom.

“Because the entire world now sees the many thousands of dead bodies on Philippine streets killed by the so-called war against illegal drugs and disapproves official hate speech and reprisals against critics and dissenters, it is apparent that the Duterte administration has chosen that the best defense is an offense in the UN,” Olalia said.#

Ecuvoice
Reference:
Edre U. Olalia
Head of Ecuvoice Delegation to the 43rd UNHRC Session
Cristina E. Palabay
Co-Head

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